Scrounger: Seven

he first time Sally saw the footage, she drank an entire mug of hot tea, scalding her mouth.

She didn’t realize her mouth was bleeding until later.

The out-of-focus stumbling body was the first image. Was he naked? A reporter muttered bath salts as the police covered the man with a blanket and struggled to lead him away, as he kicked and heaved.

Later that evening, on the Late Night talk shows, there would be jokes about the zombie apocalypse. But for now, the footage showed the victim laying motionless — far away, as to not show the macabre. It looked like something was missing. On the victim. She shuddered and changed the channel.

What was next?

Then she noticed the raw flesh in her mouth. A tender tongue lapped her scalded cheeks, and the roof of her mouth felt like dried-out, uncooked steak. It would be months later when she actually craved it — but for now, she winced at the pain and went to grab an ice cube from the freezer, but the burn of the cold didn’t offset the heat of the burn.